Scientists have discovered that water is being released from the moon during meteor showers. When a speck of comet debris strikes the moon as shown in the illustration, it vaporizes on impact, creating a shock wave in the lunar soil that ejects water vapor into the lunar atmosphere. NASA/Goddard/Dan Gallagher
The moon just keeps getting wetter and wetter. Trace amounts of water were found in rocks returned from manned Apollo and unmanned Soviet missions. Then in the late 1990s, during orbital missions to the moon to map and study its surface minerals, scientists detected the water ice in permanently shadowed craters in the moon’s polar regions. It was also found bound up in lunar minerals here and there across the entire lunar globe.
Now, researchers from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, report that streams of meteoroids striking the Moon infuse the thin lunar atmosphere with a short-lived water vapor.
NASA’s LADEE probe explored the moon’s tenuous atmosphere and dusty surface from Sept. 2013 to April 2014.NASA/Goddard/Dan Gallagher
Finding water on the sun-baked orb with its vacuum-like atmosphere is incredible in itself. But there’s also a practical side. Water is a crucial resource for ...